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Five Decks You Can't Miss This Week: Pro Tour Edition


Welcome back! Tomorrow the world's most powerful mages will be gathering in San Diego for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze and battling for pride, prizes, and pro points. The featured constructed format at Pro Tour Dragon's Maze is Return to Ravnica Block Constructed, but since that's not a format most of us have been following, we thought we'd give you a crash course. Here are some of the decks and cards we're expecting to see heading into the Pro Tour:

Burning-Tree Emissary aggro is the baseline of the format. Mono-red has been a deck since the beginnings of the format, and it sets the pace. Any deck that's going to be successful at the Pro Tour is going to need game against the red decks:

There's all the fixing in the world, and it's still better to be straight Red. This deck piles on the pressure with a ton of one-drops backed by Burning-Tree Emissary to powerful them out as well as Boros Reckoner and Dynacharge for reach. Let's be honest, it's going to be pretty tough to recover if the red deck curves out with one-drops into a Dyancharge on turn three or four.

The sideboard is where things get a little more interesting Your sideboard is almost all cards that are there to help with aggressive mirrors and Sphinx's Revelation decks, since these are the two poles of the format. Mugging and Frostburn Weird let you clog up the ground and trump your opponent's creatures, while Traitorous Instinct and Skullcrack give you reach against the control decks of the format.

Mono-red is an interesting deck in this format because it has some game against most of the decks in the format. You can always just curve out and kill people. The problem is that if you build your deck to aggro people out, you're going to be softer to the midrangey decks, including the Red decks that give up some of their aggressive potential for removal and Frostburn Weird.

Our second deck is the other pole of the format, Sphinx's Revelation decks. These are the decks that try to go over the top of the aggressive decks with sweepers and Revelation. While there are several variations of the deck, Esper seems to be the most consistently successful, largely due to the power of the removal and Obzedat, Ghost Council.

Jace, Architect of Thought is a much bigger deal in Block than he is in Standard. Just look at the aggressive baseline of the format. How many one-power creatures does it run? It's not too difficult to curve out removal to kill their bigger creatures and then stick a Jace to lock down the board for a few turns. Once you cast a Revelation for four or more, the game is basically over.

The two cards this deck gained out of Dragon's Maze Far/Away and Sin Collector. To be fair, these are a pretty big deal. Sin Collector is very important in the Revelation mirrors, either stealing their Jace or clearing the way for yours. Far/Away is a pretty huge deal against the next deck on our list: Tokens.

The last real pillar of the format is Green-based midrange. These decks try to sneak between the Red decks and the [card]Sphinx's Revelation decks and have game against both. Most of these decks are straight Green-White tokens, featuring Armada Wurm and Angelic Skirmisher as curve-toppers. However, medvedev has had some success with this Bant build:

The key features of the tokens archetype is Gyre Sage backed by powerful midrangey creatures and populate. Against mono-Red, you want your creatures to just outclass theirs. If they don't have a Dynacharge, your 3/3's and 4/4's are just going to trump theirs and eventually you'll stick a Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and put the game out of reach.

Against control decks, your plan is to make a few tokens and sit back on a populate effect. All of your creatures are big enough to be threats on their own, and two of them are generally going to force a sweeper if your opponent has it. You really want to use this to your advantage to set up a back-breaking Rootborn Defenses turn.

Now, medvedev is splashing Blue in his Green-White tokens deck, and I like that choice. This gives you countermagic to fight over Sphinx's Revelation, and it also gives you Rapid Hybridization. This card may seem kind of innocuous, but it's sort of a big deal. Rapid Hybridization is cheap, instant-speed removal for the best cards against you: Obzedat, Ghost Council and Angel of Serenity. Not only that, but it lets you apply huge amounts of pressure out of nowhere. End of turn Rapid Hybridization on Voice of Resurgence plus populate shenanigans sort of busted and at the very worst it will just counter a removal spell like Far/Away.

Esper, Mono-Red, and Tokens. Those are the decks that everyone knows will be good heading into Pro Tour Dragon's Maze. Now that we have the pillars of the format defined, it's possible to start looking for gaps in the metagame to exploit. That's exactly what ExaltedJoe tried to do with this take on BWR Midrange:

This deck tries to attack from a different angle by having trumps for all of the key players in the format. Against aggressive decks you can curve out with removal into Obzedat, Ghost Council, Alms Beast, or Boros Reckoner and just take over from there. Against control decks you just need to stick Sire of Insanity and Mind Twist them out of the game. Against tokens you have Mizzium Mortars to sweep away most of their deck and actual removal to take care of the rest of their tokens.

Obzedat, Ghost Council and Aurelia's Fury give this deck a lot of reach, and let it turn the corner from control to aggro very quickly. Your sideboard is incredibly important in this style of deck, and I think it shows that ExaltedJoe is much more focused on his Esper and aggro matchups than Tokens. Against Esper you get to add Sin Collector and Slaughter Games to your disruption suite to make sure your important cards resolve. You also get access to Underworld Dreams to make sure you stay ahead on cards or have reach in the late game. Against aggro decks you get to bring in even more removal and take out some of your top end.

This deck plays powerful cards and has a plan for its matchup against all three of the key archetypes in the format. Having a plan is important in this format, and this one worked out for ExaltedJoe.

Last, let's look at a deck by _Batuhina that walks the other end of the midrange spectrum. If Tokens and BWR Midrange look more controlling; _Batuhina's is about as aggressive as you can get. He's basically taken the mono-Red theory and changed up the colors to add more resilient creatures and spells for the midgame while retaining the ability to just curve out and kill opponents.

This gameplan of this deck is very similar to that of the Red deck. Bring the beats fast and hard and get your opponent dead. The difference is that this deck isn't all-in on dorky creatures turning sideways. You get to back them up with removal and scavenge to give yourself game against the other aggro decks and reach against the control decks.

The best thing about this deck is the sideboard cards you get access to. Golgari Charm is absolutely absurd against other aggressive decks. Gift of Orzhova is incredibly difficult to race, and there are a lot of decks that can't really interact with a giant creature that's been Gifted up. Pack Rat is the trump in creature mirrors, since it gets completely out of hand after just a few turns. Last, Vraska the Unseen and Underworld Connections let you grind away against control decks while you get in for a few points of damage each turn.

This deck is not revolutionary in concept, but it does fit in to a very unique slot in the metagame. You can apply enough pressure to punish people for their poor draws, but you're also not dead if you can't kill your opponent by turn 5.

We hope you've enjoyed this quick look into what Return to Ravnica block constructed looks like headed into the Pro Tour. Be sure to check out the official coverage starting at 12 PM EST this Friday on DailyMTG.com and check back here throughout the weekend for live updates from the event.

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